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By: Ann Danaiva Usher
For nearly a century, Thai state forestry focused overwhelmingly on extracting timber and keeping local people away from the forest. According to official accounts, the proportion of the country under forest declined from approximately 75 per cent in 1900, to 53 per cent in 1960, to about 25 per cent in 1998. As a profession, foresters systematically overlooked the manifold causes of deforestation and directed blame at one single group-rural people, especially ethnic hill tribes. Ann Danaiya Usher examines the trajectory of deforestation in Thailand, providing a detailed account of the historical ideas and styles of forestry that have influenced the practice of Thai state forestry over the years. She also looks at the century-old conflict between foresters and forest communities and argues that unless some kind of resolution is found, the loss of forest is almost certain to continue until there is little left to protect. "Thai Forestry: A Critical History" builds on Ann Danaiya Usher's work at "The Nation" in the 1990s, and challenges all who care about Thailand's environment to re-examine its history in the search for creative, genuine solutions. Ann Danaiya Usher is a Thai-Canadian journalist who has written on environmental and development issues since 1987. She was a pioneer of environmental journalism in Thailand, and in 1990 received the Thai Reporters' Association's first-ever Environmental Reporter of the Year Award.
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